Osborne Addresses Monaco Dealer Congress
William L. “Bill” Osborne, in his first official address to Monaco RV LLC’s dealer body during the Coburg, Ore.-based company’s Dealer Congress 2011, offered a vision of growth and success founded on “three key elements” – product quality and innovation, supported by a renewed focus on customer care.
The gathering, running June 20-22, attracted representatives from 68 dealerships to the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas.
“Our intention will be to build the finest coaches in the industry, period,” said Osborne, who will replace outgoing Monaco President Kay Toolson July 1 and assume the role of vice president of custom products for Navistar Inc.’s Monaco and Workhorse Custom Chassis LLC subsidiaries. “This isn’t going to be accomplished by launching some kind of special initiative. We will accomplish it by organizing ourselves to do it, setting higher standards for ourselves, and living up to those standards. It simply has to become part of our DNA and we have to improve on it every day.”
While acknowledging that he was a newcomer to the RV industry, Osborne stressed that his 30-plus years in the global and domestic auto sector had uniquely prepared him for the new position.
“Some of my past experiences include times as president of both Ford Australia and Ford Canada,” he said. “I headed Ford’s North American Truck Engineering group, leading the development of award winning products like the F150 and super-duty line of pickup trucks. I also served as the CEO of the Federal Signal Corp. and a member of the board of directors at Navistar.
“Of course, none of that makes me an expert in the RV business. But I do bring a wealth of experience and some fresh thinking to the table that we will use to build the ‘Next Generation of Monaco RV.’”
Osborne’s speech highlighted Tuesday’s general session that featured presentations by several key members of Monaco management. Toolson also took the stage, offering a recap of his 25-year tenure at the helm of Monaco Coach Corp. Dan Ustian, CEO and chairman of Warrenville, Ill.-based Navistar, which purchased Monaco out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009, addressed the dealers that evening.
Throughout the meeting, Monaco showcased its 2012 product line, offering dealers a look at the 35-foot Monaco Vesta and Holiday Rambler Trip Class A motorhomes and upgrades to the Monaco LaPalma and Knight Class A lines.
Osborne touched on a broad range of topics during his speech. The following are some excerpts:
• In referring to Monaco’s new quality initiative, Osborne quipped, “What a shock. Here is an ex-Ford guy talking about quality.” He added, “I’m sure that every dealer meeting you attend, there is some guy on stage talking about improving quality. …What’s different this time is that unlike some other executives in the industry, I actually know what it takes to get it done. That means that I’m not going to tell you that it will be done quickly or that we will be an overnight success. It is hard work and it is going to take time.”
• Concerning product development, Osborne said that the Vesta and the Trip were examples of Monaco’s ability to “leverage the engineering expertise at Navistar.” He added, “We are going to invest in consumer research so that we know our customers and where they are headed in the future. We will take those consumer insights and use to create products for the next generation of RVer’s.
• With regard to service, Osborne stated, “The next generation of customers will reject you, if you can’t offer them a no-hassle, worry-free experience with your products. … Right now, we are in the early stages of defining what that service experience needs to be and how we will organize ourselves to deliver it. We will have more to say about it in the future, but it is a key element of our strategy.”
In closing, Osborne emphasized that Monaco’s dealer body would be facing the same challenges over the coming year.
“As we raise the bar for ourselves, on quality, on innovation and on service, we’re going to be asking you to do the same,” he said. “We need to work together to define how you plan to market, sell and support the ‘Next Generation of Monaco RV.’ We want you to share these bedrock values, so that you can grow with our strategy.